Shutdown of 3,000 companies affects 100,000 workers
MANILA, Philippines — More than 3,000 business establishments have reported a temporary shutdown of operations, while more than 200 have closed down permanently since January this year, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said, adding that the closures affected some 100,000 workers.
Bello said he had received reports that 3,012 companies have closed down temporarily amid the COVID-19 pandemic that prompted President Duterte to place Luzon under a strict lockdown in mid-March in an effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
The labor official said he would meet with senators to discuss how the labor department could continue its COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program meant to provide cash assistance to displaced workers in the formal sector.
Bello said he was banking on the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector and the government’s public works and transportation projects to generate more jobs and help the economy bounce back.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III meanwhile called for the opening of the economy, especially in Metro Manila and the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) region, saying that Filipinos should learn to live with the “new reality” that the virus was not going away anytime soon, “and we’d have to live with it for a long period of time.”
In a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, Dominguez said Metro Manila and Calabarzon should move to a modified general community quarantine level as soon as possible “because people have to start working.”
Dominguez noted that 67 percent of the industries and businesses in the country are based in the two areas, which remain mostly under general community quarantine. Only barangays and companies that report an increase in COVID-19 cases should be put on lockdown, he said.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque meanwhile said the administration was moving toward opening up the economy “so that people will now have a livelihood and not just be alive physically,” he said in a television interview.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said he supported Dominguez’s proposal to ease restrictions in the country’s two main business centers, adding that prolonging strict quarantine measures in Metro Manila and Calabarzon would further cripple the economy.
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